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Amphipolar, Amphiphilic 2,4-diarylpyrano[2,3-b]indoles as Turn-ON Luminophores in Acidic and Basic Media
Tobias Wilcke, Alexandru Postole, Marcel Krüsmann, Matthias Karg and Thomas J. J. Müller:
Molecules, 27, 7, 2354 (2022)
doi: 10.3390/molecules27072354




A versatile amphiphilic pyrano[2,3-b]indole for halochromic turn-ON luminescence in acidic or basic media is accessed by an insertion-coupling-cycloisomerization and adjusting solubilizing and phenolic functionalities. While almost non-emissive in neutral solutions, treatment with acids or bases like trifluoroacetic acid (TFA) or 1,8-diazabicyclo[5.4.0]undec-7-ene (DBU) reveals distinct luminescence at wavelengths of 540 nm or 630 nm in propan-2-ol, respectively. Turn-ON emission can be detected at pH values as mild as pH = 5.31 or 8.70. Quantum yields in propan-2-ol are substantial for protonated (Φf = 0.058) and deprotonated (Φf = 0.059) species. Photometrically, pKa1 of 3.5 and pKa2 of 10.5 were determined in propan-2-ol. With lipophilic polyether sidechains and hydrophilic protonation and deprotonation sites the molecule can be regarded as amphipolar, which results in good solubility properties for different organic solvents. In aqueous media, an organic co-solvent like propan-2-ol (35%) or tetrahydrofuran (25%) is needed, and the solution can be diluted with pure water without precipitation of the compound. At higher concentrations of water, a turbid solution is formed, which indicates the formation of micellar structures or clusters. With dynamic light scattering we could show that these clusters increase in size with increasing water content.